Population set to grow ‘no matter what’

Australia’s population is set to grow and it’s simply wrong for politicians to pretend they can halt the growth, a new study says.

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The paper, released by the conservative Centre for Independent Studies, found that in all but one of 36 modelled scenarios, Australia’s population would continue to grow.

“Only with zero net migration and falling fertility, which is practically unachievable and widely regarded as undesirable, would Australia’s population shrink or stabilise,” said study authors Jessica Brown and Oliver Marc Hartwich.

“Some degree of population growth is an inevitable reality.”

Ms Brown and Mr Hartwich said that by focusing on cutting migration as a way to limit population growth, the current public debate had also ignored the role of fertility, which mattered as much, if not more.

They said anti-growth campaigners suggested that if migration was reduced, population growth could be stabilised.

“But this is not true. Even if migration were more than halved to 70,000 a year, which we do not advocate, we would still have a population of more than 29 million by 2050 if fertility remained constant.”

Ms Brown said that under every realistic scenario Australia’s population would grow.

“It is simply wrong for politicians to pretend that they can stop population growth,” she said.

“Our future is a bigger Australia and we must start preparing for it,” Mr Hartwich said.

“The combination of population growth plus ageing means the number of Australians aged over 80 will more than double to about two million by 2050.”